I have to be honest and tell you that I did something really, really dumb and something I definitely don't recommend. I didn't train like I should have. Actually, I really didn't train at all. I ran a handful of times in September, once in early October, and once earlier this week. My longest run was 4 miles and I stopped and walked in between each mile. I have been working out regularly for the last 3 weeks but I'm not sure how well that prepares you for running.
Needless to say, as we started getting closer to race time I REALLY regretted signing up. Ever more-so, I regretted blogging about it. I was way too embarrassed to drop out after letting the world in on my plans. Plus I felt like it wouldn't set a good example for Emerson. I know she is too young to understand but I would never want her to think of her momma as a quitter!
About two weeks ago I emailed the race organizers and asked to be switched to the 10k. By that time registration was closed and they told me it was too late to switch. At that point I was bummed but looking back I am SO glad that I wasn't able to switch.
Yesterday morning I woke up with a nasty cold, though, and I worried that I really wasn't going to be able to make my dream come true after all. Not only was I poorly prepared, now I had to battle extreme stuffiness or a dripping nose.
Despite the setbacks, I decided that I was going to do it. I promised myself that I would finish the race one way or another, even if I had to walk.
I got up at 4:00 am this morning after tossing and turning all night. I was just so nervous that I couldn't sleep. I donned my race gear, ate breakfast, and gave myself a few pep talks. And, of course, I said a prayer and asked for God to give me the strength to finish and to keep me safe from injury.
At 5:00 am I headed over to my neighbors house. We rode to the race together, but not before getting a few more pre-race shots.
We decided to wear the bright green shirts because they were perfect for this steamy weather AND they told us that it would give us a chance at door prizes. :)
We had to be at the race site by 5:45, which still gave us 45 minutes before the start of the race. It was during this time I started to get really, really nervous. I saw all of the other runners in their fancy running gear and I watched them do all kinds of complicated stretches. I think that's when I realized that I was WAY out of my league. I sent Jesse a text and his reply instantly calmed me down. Knowing that I would see him and Emerson at the finish line pumped my up and I was ready to go. Honestly, I just couldn't wait to get it over with!
Then before, I knew it was time for the race to begin. My strategy going on was to run as long as possible without stopping to walk. I was really hoping to do at least 3-4 miles. I started off in a small group but it immediately dispersed and people were passing me left and right. I told myself to keep my pace steady. I knew for sure that if I started off too fast I would never be able to finish.
Somewhere around the 3k mark we ran up a short but very steep hill. Even though it was no fun, I made myself push through it. Have I ever mentioned that I hate hills?
By the 5k mark I was still feeling pretty good. I was happy that I had run that far without stopping because I hadn't done even that far in forever. During this whole time I kept reciting Bible verses, singing songs, and praying. I swear that is what gave me the strength to keep going when I wanted to stop.
Somewhere around the 6k mark I realized that I had to pee. And I knew I was in trouble because the bathrooms weren't until the 11k mark. This may be a little bit TMI, but once you have a baby your bladder just isn't the same. I seriously wondered if I would make it that far and contemplated finding a bush. Haha!
At around the 8k mark I couldn't take it anymore and I had to stop and walk or I knew I would pee my pants (More TMI.) I brought my phone with an interval timer so I started doing intervals of 2 minutes runs and 30 seconds walks. I was still feeling great except for the fact that I had to pee so bad.
When we got to the 11k mark I was so happy! I knew that I would be able to get back into a better pace after using the restroom. But they were nowhere in sight! That's when I realized that they were actually at the 12k mark. I'm not going to lie- that next kilometer was SO long.
After my restroom stop I stopped at the drink station and drank a little energy drink and some water. I started back with my intervals and I was still feeling pretty good. It was starting to get hot and there wasn't much of a breeze, but other than that I was still feeling okay. At this point I was pretty much on my own. I had always pictured running in a big crowd but I guess since this was a small race, everyone dispersed really quickly.
Around the 13k mark a car pulled up next to me and started cheering. I was a little dazed so it took me a minute to realize that it was Jesse and Emerson and our awesome neighbors. I can't begin to tell you how motivating that was for me. I got back into a good rhythm and I was so happy to know that I was over halfway done.
Then I turned the corner and saw the hill that I was about to climb. It was a highway overpass and it was incredibly steep and sooo long. I decided right then and there that I was going to walk the whole thing. I was afraid that running it would just zap all of my energy. There were quite a few volunteers along the way cheering us on, which I thought was pretty awesome.
After crossing the bridge, I started my intervals again. I knew that I needed to keep doing them as long as possible. For me, once I start walking more, it's harder to get back into running.
At the 15k mark, I saw my sweet family and friends again. Nothing could have made me happier!!
Our neighbor made this little sign for Emerson to hold. Isn't it the cutest?By this time, my hips and knees were really starting to hurt and all I could think about was how bad I wanted it to be over.
Luckily I was on pace with a man who competes in half marathons for fun. He ran with me and talked to me for the next 2 km. We talked about where we were from and how long we've been here. It was a nice distraction.
I kept doing my intervals but I did less running and more walking. I was really worn out but I was so excited to be getting closer to crossing the finish line.
I told myself that once I made it to the 18 k mark I was going to run the rest of the way. Unfortunately it didn't quite happen that way. I started to feel like I was going to pass out so I tried to take it pretty slow. (I've passed out once before and I know what the beginning feels like.) All I kept thinking was how awful it would be to fall out with only a few miles to go.
I have to be honest and say that those last few kilometers were pure torture. They were SO hard. There were several times that I felt myself hyperventilating and I really struggled to catch my breath. It was pretty scary and I felt like crying!! It was weird because it would happen when I was walking, not running. I was literally sucking in air but it just wasn't getting to my lungs. I think part of it was the overwhelming emotions at knowing that I was almost done.
When I saw the 19k mark I started doing intervals again even though my legs felt like lead and my hips were aching so badly. I probably did more walking than I did running but it still hurt. I just wanted it to be over SO badly!!
Once I got to the 20k mark I was overwhelmed with emotion and I thought I was going to lose it right there. I couldn't believe that I was finally almost done and I had really completed over 13 miles.
I blew my sweet girl a kiss and and tried to sprint toward the end.
Finally, I crossed the finish line!!!
My final time was 2:43:57 That puts me at a 12:30 pace, which isn't too shabby for being so undertrained. I've always been a slow runner anyway so I'm pretty happy with my time.
I have to admit that I pretty much felt dying once it was over. I got that "I'm gonna pass out feeling" several more times and I had to sit for quite a while. I was able to squeeze in some pictures before hobbling my way to the car.
I felt pretty sick for about an hour after the race despite eating a banana and a muffin but it eventually wore off. I was also pretty stiff for a few hours but I'm already feeling better. My bad knee felt pretty good throughout the race but it is super stiff and sore now. I'm guessing that I will probably be incredibly sore tomorrow!
For the next few hours after the race I kept saying that I was NEVER, EVER going to do that again. But now that I'm feeling better, I'm already thinking about my next race. It was one of THE hardest things I have ever done in my life but also so exhilarating. I am SO, SO glad that I did it and I have a feeling I will do it again, one of these days.
I learned a few major lessons today:
1. Half marathons require training or you will feel like you are going to die.
2. I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to, but only through the strength that God provides me. He carried me through that race and kept me going even when I didn't want to.
3. I have ABSOLUTELY NO desire to do a full marathon. Ever.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I know this is super long but I wanted to make sure and document everything from this crazy day!